What should I expect during my pre-pregnancy check-up?
Through pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor will able to detect potential risks and address any medical concerns you may have before you conceive.
During pre-pregnancy check-ups, expect your doctor to ask you regarding your:
What are the different factors that may affect my pregnancy, childbirth and my baby’s health?
- Your Diet and Nutritional Needs
There is no denying that the human body needs a constant supply of nutrients and minerals to support our everyday activities and to repair damaged tissues.
Our diet plays a significant role in determining our over-all health. As what an old saying says, we are what we eat—yes, we can get energy from supplements and vitamins, but our body’s well-being is primarily determined by the food we eat.
To carry a child in your womb means that the nutrients that the fetus will need will come from you. The state of your health and diet will be a great factor to ensure the proper nutrition the baby will receive.
During pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor will discuss with you on the proper diet and nutritional needs to keep you and your future baby healthy and well-nourished.
To make sure you maintain a healthy diet, your doctor can help you make healthy food selections as well as recommend food-planning and supplements guide you can follow throughout the pregnancy period.
The importance of pre-pregnancy check-up comes into play when proper vitamins and supplements to take are involved.
The following vitamins and supplements are usually taken by women before and during pregnancy:
- Prenatal vitamin supplements (contains all the daily vitamins and minerals you need)
- Folic acid supplements (helps prevent neural tube defects)
- Iron (aids in production of blood required to supply oxygen to the baby in the womb)
- Your Medical History
You should inform your doctor if you are currently having or have any of the following in the past:
- chronic conditions (eg hypertension, diabetes)
- serious medical problems
- mental health issues
- recent or past exposure to infectious diseases
- previous surgery or hospitalisation
As any medical problems may affect your pregnancy and baby’s health, they should be addressed (and treated if possible) before conception and should be monitored during pregnancy.
With proper care and precautions, getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and successful delivery is possible even when experiencing chronic medical conditions.
- Your Family History
Before going to your doctor for pre-pregnancy check-up, make a list of the different medical issues that exists in your family. These medical conditions may include
- simple allergies
- chronic diseases eg diabetes
- serious conditions such as cancer
This medical list will be very helpful for you and your doctor to uncover any risks that will affect your pregnancy and possible medical conditions that can be passed on to your child.
Of course, as much as your family history is important, your partner’s family history will also matter, so better make the list together.
- Your Past Pregnancies and Reproductive History
If you have been pregnant before, do you still need to have pre-pregnancy check-up before trying for a new child?
Yes, because every pregnancy is unique.
Even if you have been pregnant before, it is always better to have yourself checked before trying for a new baby.
To make a proper assessment, your doctor may ask you details about your previous pregnancy such as:
- the type of delivery you had (vaginal, assisted vaginal or C-section)
- the complications you may have encountered before, during and after delivery
- the postpartum effects on your mental (i.e., depression) and physical (i.e., hemorrhage) health
- Your Home and Work Environments
If you are planning to conceive, consider the type of environment you have at home and at your workplace.
There are certain chemicals and toxic substances (and even radiation) that can be very harmful to the developing fetus.
Make sure you are well-protected and unexposed to these harmful chemicals.
What Tests and Screenings Should I Expect During My Pre-Pregnancy Check-up?
- General preconception tests and screenings
During your pre-pregnancy checkup, your doctor may perform a number of specific preconception tests and screenings such as:
- Pap smear
- Blood tests
- Blood pressure reading
- Physical exams for pelvic, breast, and abdomen and other internal organs
- Urinalysis to screen for urinary tract infection (UTI) and other kidney problems
- Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Fertility Tests (especially for women over 35 years old)
- Specific screenings for serious gynecological conditions
With these tests, if your doctor develops suspicion of pre-existing gynecological conditions that may cause serious problems that may cause infertility or difficulty in conceiving, further screenings may be required.
These serious gynecological conditions may include:
- uterine fibroids
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- ovarian cysts or benign tumours
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Mental Health Assessment
Determining your overall health is the primary objective of pre-pregnancy check-up and that also includes your mental and emotional capacity to bear a child.
During the check-up, your doctor may require additional screenings for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating and mood disorders for a more holistic assessment.
- Genetic screening
Your ob-gyn may recommend that you consult with a genetic counsellor and undergo carrier screening for inherited genetic disorders. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a healthy baby.
Through genetic screening and counselling, you and your partner can predict and understand the probabilities of having a child with a birth defect.